The Critical Spirit

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posted on Mar, 2 2014 @ 01:51 PM
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The Critical Spirit

 

1.

Human spirit dwells within each invention and art; it was put there by its artist; and each brush stroke, each sentence, each intention behind every action towards it gives form to the art that stands before us. Every doctrine, religion, blueprint, philosophy or self-help book is what Nietzsche called “the self confession of its originator and a form of unintentional and unrecorded memoir”. No account, no interpretation, no history is wholly impersonal as long as it is spoken through the mouth of a human being. Literature itself (perhaps apart from the most objective of non-fictions)—and really, any art in general—by necessity, contains the personal, the metaphysical, and the moral underpinnings of its authors.

According to Fichte, Hegel and the Hegelians, the phenomenology of spirit shows that the entirety of human history is a dialectic between thesis and antithesis. This dialectic occurs constantly in the now, with propositions, assertions, and their polar opposites, the negations, in a constant struggle to form a synthesis of ideas, of which we come to know as “history”. There is basically a giant argument and conversation about the world going on, on both an individual and societal level. I would suppose that this constant war overflows to culture, politics, and every facet of human expression as well. No thesis does not have its antithesis, and no struggle between the two without its synthesis. Synthesis becomes thesis, and the process begins all over again.

2.

Every expression, from the simplest morpheme to the greatest epics, from every theory and every religion, contains the creator’s pathos, ethos, and logos; and we can perhaps better understand its intent, the “spirit” of the work, its art, the creator’s meaning, if we consider this origin. The artist has presented us with a gift. However, as the mythology of gifts has warned us, there is always the threat of a trojan horse. The art is always an ideology that is not our own. To truly reap the benefits of this gift and to see its true utility, does not occur upon accepting its dogmas on the author’s authority, but by becoming the authority ourselves, comparing our pathos, ethos, and logos to that of what remains in the work after we have utterly destroyed it, perhaps for the sake of remaining sovereign over our own expression, retaining some sense of our own freedom, wisdom and peace in the face of another’s. Perhaps.

But our only defence against this trojan horse and the onslaught of our own dialectic, that which continually wages war in the recesses of our mind, is our own critical faculties. Every creator is a destroyer. Out of the rubble, the wise man builds his own wisdom; the free man his own freedom; and the peaceful man his own peace. The critical man is all of these. Consequently, the peaceful man, the wise man and the free man is the mind at war, the philosopher, the poet, the artist—the critical spirit. There is no peace without war.

3.

George Santayana said of William James: “he was so extremely natural that there was no knowing what his nature was, or what came next.” A profound compliment fit for a profound man. To be so natural that one still had the power to surprise even the most deepest and poetic of thinkers, to generate new ideas, to remind us of who we are in new ways, to wonder, to inspire within the midst of nature—where are the natural ones today?

4.

Then, when one is bored, observe the priestly types. Observe the way they sell a doctrine and a word that is not their own. History for them is not a conversation, but a market place, a sales pitch; and they are selling the same stale product in an overly-saturated industry. How natural is this? We do best to lock our doors when they come knocking, gifts in hand. The sell us only stale, abstract, and flavourless concepts—enlightenment, divinity, oneness, afterlives—concepts without any substance, without any nature, for we purchase the name only.

5.

To anyone who has payed any attention to how humanity has expressed herself in modern times, one might notice a lack of the critical spirit. Billions of people follow a religion, and very few create their own. There is an apparent reliance on the critical spirits of others where it may lack in ourselves. “He has done the work for us and we shall benefit thereby.” In intellectual poverty, criticism is nowadays a state-ran institution not unlike welfare—and boy are we poor.

6.

Oscar Wilde would tell a tale of “the critical spirit”, a synthesis of the two supreme highest arts, “Life and Literature, life and the perfect expression of life”. Criticism is the weapon of choice for the critical spirit, to take part in the dialectical war that we know as History is his aim. And all this perhaps so that others don’t have to. Perhaps.

— A




posted on Mar, 4 2014 @ 03:37 PM
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Cited Material:

The Critic as Artist - A beautiful read as only Oscar Wilde could do it.
Hegel's Philosophy of Mind - Hegel is a difficult to understand. This condenses his thought fairly decently.
Beyond Good and Evil - A philosophy masterwork. The whole book is a destruction of prevailing beliefs and an example of the critical spirit at work.
edit on 4-3-2014 by Aphorism because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 12:02 AM
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What is a critic but one who reads quickly and arrogantly but never wisely? Cited from the film 'Cloud Atlas'.



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 12:47 AM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 


You should read "Infinite Jest" by the same author.



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 08:33 AM
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reply to post by Aphorism
 


Life is much more harmonious and kind when we offer suggestions to each other rather than harsh criticisms. Criticism is a way to express disapproval based on some perceived "faults" or "mistakes". A person who lives like that is never happy because nothing is ever good enough for him or her. Life can be much more kind and harmonious when we offer suggestions and build upon what we do like.



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 09:51 AM
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Criticism has its uses, but being a critic all the time must be tiring.
edit on 5|3|14 by Words because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 09:59 AM
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reply to post by arpgme
 





Life is much more harmonious and kind when we offer suggestions to each other rather than harsh criticisms. Criticism is a way to express disapproval based on some perceived "faults" or "mistakes". A person who lives like that is never happy because nothing is ever good enough for him or her. Life can be much more kind and harmonious when we offer suggestions and build upon what we do like.


Let's leave the criticizing of individuals and the advice-column type behavior to their mothers and those still on their moral high-horses. I am speaking of criticizing the works of man, ie. society, laws, culture, the sciences, etc. Politely suggesting a way change society falls on deaf ears if one doesn't have enough authority to speak from. Criticizing society in an artful way, putting its ugliness in the light, only requires a pen, and will draw notice, and may perhaps inflict change (see Luther, see Robespierre). We are more powerful than what we create. We can influence them.



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 01:16 PM
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Aphorism
reply to post by Itisnowagain
 


You should read "Infinite Jest" by the same author.


Im sorry I believe they are from different authors; 'Cloud Atlas - David Mitchel', Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace.

Your OP was great, very inspired and inspiring, poetic and well said! The only thing I can really add which this reminded me of is the Greek (is it?) view of the main existent themes of human experience comedy and tragedy, or humor and drama. Something I say, or at least I think I say it (perhaps others do as well, and it is related to this dual opposite themes), there is only entertainment...and not. All that lives main task is to live, perhaps that the ability and ease and quality of living that is so accessible by most (lack of drama, or the only main drama 'work', compared to ancienter times with lack of medical knowledge and quality of living and supermarkets, though yes this all can be debated) this leaves the main desire of the escaping drama man, to be entertained. If one has a stable life and means of existence, and goes to work, and then wants to enjoy their free time, what good is spending their time with mental strain in the form of critical thought? Where will that get us, what will that do for us, our culture has evolved mainly solely (to go along with your greek philosophy camp relations) as hedonists, pleasure being the highest value. It is not highly pleasurable for the masses to fill their minds with questions and spend time mulling them. It is more pleasurable to feel good. Something this makes me think of is the amazing trend of mindless video games on phones and such, people much rather spend their time doing mindless activity like that...which funny enough is much like meditating... then thinking about philosophy...which may also be much like a form of meditation, albeit a potentially more stressful one...though potentially not more stressfull then some mindless video games. Though now I am remembering you may have been alluding mainly to the religious, and I hope I touched some points related to those sentiments though I may have veered.

Perhaps you come from a religious background so it was really ingrained in your life and that is why you need to so strongly vet against it and justify your disillusionment with it, if that is the case I suppose maybe you want to help others who are trapped in their delusions. If that is not the case I dont know why you would even bother considering the subject...though yes I can see some interesting pertainments.



posted on Mar, 5 2014 @ 10:53 PM
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reply to post by ImaFungi
 


You're right about the authors! Thanks for the correction. I've never read Cloud Atlas. And thanks for showing some interest in my post.

I also think you’re right about the idea of entertainment or not. I like that idea. I feel that some people see their lives as a game, i.e.. a series of squares, or rules, one must follow to reach an objective, whereas some—and I hope to count myself among them—see life as an adventure, where the child at play gets free reign.

If I can feed off your insights, as it sort of feeds into some thoughts I've been having...It seems in modern times, where people have encountered idleness, boredom is the enemy of the day. People cannot handle their own minds, so they preoccupy it with whatever is close at hand, rather than allowing that boredom to push them to better themselves in all aspects of life. You’re absolutely right. But there’s so much opportunity in boredom. And there is no philosophy of boredom whatsoever save for perhaps some Buddhist concepts. I’ve looked. Even psychology is having difficulty defining it. I feel that boredom will become a topic of interest for philosophy in the future, especially with how it ties into creativity, or the lack thereof (I have yet to work this concept out).



If one has a stable life and means of existence, and goes to work, and then wants to enjoy their free time, what good is spending their time with mental strain in the form of critical thought? Where will that get us, what will that do for us, our culture has evolved mainly solely (to go along with your greek philosophy camp relations) as hedonists, pleasure being the highest value. It is not highly pleasurable for the masses to fill their minds with questions and spend time mulling them. It is more pleasurable to feel good.


Absolutely. This is quite apparent. And if I can continue to bounce of your ideas...There is, for most, no need to contemplate. Either because its difficult, or we simply do not have the time to focus on such matters. But when we do have the time and the boredom, we resort to the path of least resistance to keep our insatiability and desires preoccupied when we perhaps should be utilizing them. It’s almost like a lack of creativity. "Entertainment" is utilization of the creativity of others to preoccupy our own need to be creative. I don’t know if that idea holds any weight quite yet, but it sounds like a fun angle.

Yes it is exactly like meditation—at least as it is sold nowadays. Silencing the mind and focusing is as easy as going to sleep, or turning on the television from what I’ve noticed. But I fear that sort of thinking lets the mind grow stale, "you don’t use it you lose it" sort of deal. Besides, it's not possible to not think. Strengthening the mind takes exercise like a more classical approach to meditation i.e. straight-up contemplation and thinking and creativity. If one needs to suppress his thoughts to focus, I'd wager its because he hasn't realized the utility of thinking and focusing in tandem.



Perhaps you come from a religious background so it was really ingrained in your life and that is why you need to so strongly vet against it and justify your disillusionment with it, if that is the case I suppose maybe you want to help others who are trapped in their delusions. If that is not the case I dont know why you would even bother considering the subject...though yes I can see some interesting pertainments.


I’m equally critical of science and irreligion. I am actually pro-religion. My threads might confirm this. But any doctrine that says that we are what we aren’t, or speaks ill about nature who is innocent, deserves at least a finger-wag…



posted on Mar, 6 2014 @ 12:14 AM
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reply to post by Aphorism
 



What is a critic but one who reads quickly and arrogantly but never wisely? Cited from the film 'Cloud Atlas'.

Maybe you read the post as a critic?? Lol.

I found the film incredibly good.
edit on 6-3-2014 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 6 2014 @ 12:21 AM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 





Maybe you read the post as a critic?? Lol.


I must admit I have a tough time when people "cite" movies. A sign of the times I suppose.



posted on Mar, 6 2014 @ 01:06 AM
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Aphorism


I also think you’re right about the idea of entertainment or not. I like that idea. I feel that some people see their lives as a game, i.e.. a series of squares, or rules, one must follow to reach an objective, whereas some—and I hope to count myself among them—see life as an adventure, where the child at play gets free reign.


Yes well life is all that and more, and less. What I meant by entertainment or not is the essence of the free will of consciousness meeting the determined factors of nature, the constants, the givens, and the gift or curse of being responsible for perception,thoughts,imagination as well as being objective and following the laws of human being. So what I meant by entertainment is very loose, from dancing, to art, to sport, etc. Pretty much my definition of entertainment would loosely be, that which we do when we are not doing that which we must do. Though! it is certainly possible for one to enjoy and be entertained by their survival, it is possible for someone to be absolutely raptured with life and entertained from birth to death, and I suppose these terms arent so absolute more of a hodgepodge of infinite gradientcy. The very idea of humur and fun is quite abstract, though it perhaps can be observed in other animals. But what I am saying is life is quite serious, the art and act of survival, so some when they like to make survival easy for ourselves with the art of progression and increasing standard of living, we like to escape, and forget how weird and harsh living is, by entertaining ourselves, having fun, having friendly competitions, working on craft or hobbies. Life is certainly many things to many people, and there are many similarities as to how people view themselves and the world and go about living, as well as differences. The reason people are strict is because it is tough and challenging and there is a lot riding on it, the history of the species, and the history of your family.




If I can feed off your insights, as it sort of feeds into some thoughts I've been having...It seems in modern times, where people have encountered idleness, boredom is the enemy of the day. People cannot handle their own minds, so they preoccupy it with whatever is close at hand, rather than allowing that boredom to push them to better themselves in all aspects of life. You’re absolutely right. But there’s so much opportunity in boredom. And there is no philosophy of boredom whatsoever save for perhaps some Buddhist concepts. I’ve looked. Even psychology is having difficulty defining it. I feel that boredom will become a topic of interest for philosophy in the future, especially with how it ties into creativity, or the lack thereof (I have yet to work this concept out).


I am suggesting (much to the bane of the philosopher...I myself consider myself to be one, though I dont mind this fact I believe is a fact) that if a person has a steady job, a means of supporting their family, and children, and a simple life, it matters not in the least if they go their entire life having one critical thought, an ignorance is bliss sort of thing. They are living completely as themselves, it appears to me as true happiness, acceptance of oneself, and living a real animalia life with another human to continue the species via reproduction. Sure there are infinite variations of this, the family and non family life of a modern human, there are critical thinkers that have families and live, and there are janitors, and perhaps there are janitors that come home at night and like to read philosophy books, perhaps there are philosophy professors that like to come home at night and watch duck dynasty.

Boredom imo merely arises from either a lack of willful connection with the going ons of the outside world, and/or a lack of willful connection with the going ons of ones inner world. Never I dont think, though one can make an argument surely, in the history of civilization has mankind lived in a more interesting time, and I think this will only continue to get more interesting. The amount of information available, in the variety of genres, and brilliant people working on brilliant things, either a person is drawn to these things or they are not.






Absolutely. This is quite apparent. And if I can continue to bounce of your ideas...There is, for most, no need to contemplate. Either because its difficult, or we simply do not have the time to focus on such matters. But when we do have the time and the boredom, we resort to the path of least resistance to keep our insatiability and desires preoccupied when we perhaps should be utilizing them. It’s almost like a lack of creativity. "Entertainment" is utilization of the creativity of others to preoccupy our own need to be creative. I don’t know if that idea holds any weight quite yet, but it sounds like a fun angle.


Well a lot of entertainment is the result of a job of another, a professional entertainer, just as their are bankers and grocers and car manufactures who provide a good or service, the entertainment industries job is to entertain all the people that provide the foundation for our modern life.

Do I catch a general drift that you are a sort of at least in ideal, revolutionary? You would like to see a massive change to the system and paradigm of culture and live in an enlightened planet where everyone is entertained, or at least many many more are, by ever increasing forms of critical thought?



Yes it is exactly like meditation—at least as it is sold nowadays. Silencing the mind and focusing is as easy as going to sleep, or turning on the television from what I’ve noticed. But I fear that sort of thinking lets the mind grow stale, "you don’t use it you lose it" sort of deal. Besides, it's not possible to not think. Strengthening the mind takes exercise like a more classical approach to meditation i.e. straight-up contemplation and thinking and creativity. If one needs to suppress his thoughts to focus, I'd wager its because he hasn't realized the utility of thinking and focusing in tandem.


Yes this is possible. Using my father for an example, he pretty much woke up, worked, came home, watched tv, for his entire adult life, and I suspect many live like this. He was an accountant, he was smart, and used his brain to think all day, but it wasnt about philosophical principles and universal queries, it was a form of productive service citizens of the country depended on so they can live how they live. And this goes back to what I say above on my beliefs, that a person doesnt need to think critical to experience a positive existence.



posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 12:19 PM
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Aphorism
I must admit I have a tough time when people "cite" movies. A sign of the times I suppose.

The film holds no importance really - it was just the quote about critics that was amusing.

What is a critic but one who reads quickly and arrogantly but never wisely?



posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 12:31 PM
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What is a critic but one who reads quickly and arrogantly but never wisely?


That is probably one of the more profoundly ironic criticisms I have seen. Love it!

One of the issues seems to be that "criticism" is only seen in one light. This is perhaps influenced by the probability that many are not able to give it in a constructive way, coupled with the possibility that most people do not enjoy criticism of any variety.

I think the situation is analogous to "competition." Where-in, such experiences are not viewed as arenas of opportunity but as ways to stroke pride and humiliate.

Perhaps the answer is all in plants. Some simply grow and interact with each other differently. Some have a harmonious and symbiotic relationship, where their competition allows them to reach new heights. Others simply want to have all of the resources for themselves, regardless of the fact that means the other plants will simply not survive.

However, it would beg the question; If we actually have free will, then why do we decide to be this way? Who knows, there might even be an internal disparity in the human race akin to the perceived difference between animals and plants.



posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 12:42 PM
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Serdgiam
I think the situation is analogous to "competition." Where-in, such experiences are not viewed as arenas of opportunity but as ways to stroke pride and humiliate.

The idea of powerlessness results in a power struggle.

If we actually have free will, then why do we decide to be this way?

The will is free but belongs to no one.



posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 12:51 PM
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Itisnowagain
The idea of powerlessness results in a power struggle.


Thats likely a part of it, at least for some.


The will is free but belongs to no one.


Maybe. Maybe not.





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